Did Jenny Cooper’s Joey Barnes Leave Virgin River?

Joey Barnes, the older sister of ‘Virgin River‘s’ central protagonist, Melinda “Mel” Monroe, has been a staple of the beloved Netflix original drama show for a long time. The series revolves around Mel and her life in the small town of Virgin River in California, following a traumatic event that drives her out of LA in pursuit of a new beginning. Throughout her journey, Mel finds a rock-solid support from her sister, Joey. However, the latter’s presence and influence over the narrative progressively begin to diminish over the seasons.

In season 4, Joey’s character finds a tangible footing in the plot with her whirlwind wedding held in the town. Still, shortly after, her character returns to her life in LA, excited to start a new chapter in her life. Given Joey’s rocky presence in the show, viewers must be wondering what the cards hold for Joey in season 5. If so, here is everything you need to know about Joey and her involvement in this season of ‘Virgin River,’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Does Joey Barnes Leave Virgin River?

Although Joey takes her leave from the town of Virgin River, the character remains a minor part of the show in season 5. For the most part, Joey’s character has always operated within the storyline from the other side of Mel’s phone. As her sister’s closest friend and regular confidant, we get to see Joey whenever something monumental happens in Mel’s life.

Simultaneously, Joey’s character gets to play a more significant role in the story whenever the two sisters reunite geographically. During the earlier seasons, Joey’s divorce proceedings overtake most of her personal storyline. Shortly after Mel’s momentary but emotional break up with Jack in season 3, Mel arrives in LA, where the two sisters offer each other love and support.

Joey’s character plays a crucial role in the plot at this time by being by Mel’s side as she decides to try for a baby with her previously frozen embryos fertilized with her late husband Mark’s sperm. Afterward, in season 4, her unexpected wedding with former high school sweetheart Nate, whom she only reconnected with a few months ago, becomes her central storyline.

As such, the viewers are used to seeing Joey in doses with her personal life occasionally affecting the residents of Virgin River. However, this season, the newlywed maintains her distance from the town and her sister for most of the story. Regardless of her previous presence in town, once Joey returns to LA, she becomes disconnected from the plot again, infrequently appearing during phone calls with Mel.

Although Joey offers to visit the small town after she learns about Mel’s pregnancy complication, the latter turns down her offer, leaving Joey’s character out of the narrative loop. Alternatively, we do get to see a new version of Joey through numerous flashbacks of Mel’s childhood. These flashbacks take the audience back to the time after Mel’s mother’s death and depict how losing a parent at a young age affected Mel. Likewise, it also showcases the close connection that has persisted between Joey and Mel all these years.

Yet, despite Joey’s minimal residence within the narrative, her character drops a significant twist that will likely impact the upcoming seasons drastically. In a phone conversation with Mel during Christmas, Joey reveals that she found some of their mother’s memorabilia that suggests that Mel’s father may have been from Virgin River. By communicating such a life-changing revelation to Mel, Joey leaves a lasting impression on this season in spite of her previous negligible screen time.

Ultimately, fans of everyone’s favorite older sister in Los Angeles have nothing to worry about as Joey continues to be a part of ‘Virgin River’ in her own long-distance way. Therefore, Jenny Cooper has no reason to depart from the show and will continue to contribute to the series’ progression. In fact, considering the surprising new information that Joey discloses about her mother in the finale, it won’t be far-fetched to expect her character to be more involved in Mel’s storyline in the coming season.

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